Sunday, July 26, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: The Monk and The Nun

Ellery Eskelin: Premonition. 1993. Prime Source: CD 2010.

Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone

An unfettered stretching out through materials and ideas by the enormously creative tenor saxophonist. Other than the brief final track with its light pre-programmed percussion underpinning the Latin "Besame Mucho" by Torres Velazquez. The first half of this disc offers up conceptual purities of Eskelin's design. Melodic - even lyrical - textures torn at odd angles by controlled, ragged bursts. Each feeling a little short - no small feat within an extended period of unaccompanied monophonic instrument. Eskelin then takes a turn toward interpreting "Body and Soul" and Monk's "Off Minor" to reveal the manner in which he embraces song form with his stylistic bravado. Each sounds more beautiful and intimate than the piece before it. A worthy reedsman in a landscape of evolving jazz giants.

Johanna Beyer: Sticky Melodies. 2008. New World Records: 80678-2.

Suite for Clarinet I (1932)
Daniel Goode: clarinet

String Quartet No. 1 (1933 - 1934)
Miwako Abe: violin
Aaron Barnden: violin
Erkki Veltheim: viola
Rosanne Hunt: cello

Three Songs for Soprano and Clarinet (1934)
Merlyn Quaife: soprano
Craig Hill: clarinet

Bees (date unknown)
Peter Dumsday: piano

The Federal Music Project (1936)
The Astra Choir
John McCaughey: conductor

Movement for Two Pianos (1936)
Peter Dumsday: piano
Kim Bastin: piano

Suite for Clarinet Ib (1932)
Craig Hill: clarinet

String Quartet No. 2 (1936)
Miwako Abe: violin
Aaron Barnden: violin
Erkki Veltheim: viola
Rosanne Hunt: cello

Ballad of the Star-Eater (1934)
Merlyn Quaife: soprano
Craig Hill: clarinet

Movement for Double Bass and Piano (1936)
Nicholas Synot: double bass
Kim Bastin: piano

Three Pieces for Choir (1937)
The Astra Choir
John McCaughey: conductor

Sonatina in C (1943)
Peter Dumsday: piano

Beautifully performed and recorded double-CD that fills in a missing contemporary of Ruth Crawford-Seeger, Henry Cowell and Carl Ruggles. (Missing for these ears until now, that is). An astonishing collection of modernist works realized through the Great Depression with an ear for the Dissonant Counterpoint theories developed by Pete Seeger. Each work included here is an absolute gem. The string quartets are a fantastic balance of texture, counterpoint and thematic development. The choral works feature turns of whimsy along with ghostly sustained tones trailing off from the sopranos. Deserving of many more listenings.

Thelonious Monk: The Complete Riverside Recordings [disc 1]. 1986. Riverside: RCD-022-2.

July 21 and 27, 1955 sessions with:
Thelonious Monk: piano
Oscar Pettiford: bass
Kenny Clarke: drums

March 15, 1956 & April 3, 1956 sessions with:
Thelonious Monk: piano
Oscar Pettiford: bass
Art Blakey: drums

It's Sunday morning, and there is no experience closer to deity than the interactions between Monk and Pettiford 54 years ago. This first disc features a generous selection of mostly Ellington tunes given the Monk treatment with precision brevity. With a melodic sensibility so inventive that the solos don't need to make any formal departure into a world of chord changes. "Caravan" is a highlight with the laid back forward momentum of the rhythm section of Pettiford and Clarke. The excellent Fats Waller tune "Honeysuckle Rose" is transformed into something other worldly and the often dreadful Van Heusen ballad "Darn That Dream" gets some much needed dissonant voicings. A case study in how to draw the most creative verve out of show tunes and standards.

1 comment:

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